Federal Grand Jury Investigating Pilot Flying J

Jimmy Haslam

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Three months after federal officials raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, a federal grand jury is now investigating allegations of fraud in connection with the company's fuel rebate program.

The grand jury panel has already begun hearing testimony from witnesses connected with the alleged fraud, according to NewsChannel5 in Cleveland. The news report did not give details on when the grand jury was convened.

 Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam is also a majority owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns.

"The United States Attorney's Office never confirms or denies any activity regarding a grand jury, so we have no comment at this time," said a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, which is overseeing the case.

As CSNews Online previously reported, federal officials allege that Pilot Flying J failed to pay the full refunds to a number of small trucking companies enrolled in its fuel rebate program. Five company employees have already pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the alleged fraud. In addition, at least 18 lawsuits have been filed against the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company.

Since the April 15 raid, Haslam has said the company is cooperating with the investigation. He has also denied any knowledge of the alleged scheme.

Pilot Flying J is a family-owned business that was started by Haslam's father in 1958. The company operates more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America.

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